India sends massive aid package to Türkiye and Syria

8 Feb, 2023 17:41 / Updated 1 year ago

By Joydeep Sen Gupta, Asia editor

Over 100 tonnes of equipment and 200 personnel have been sent to areas affected by the devastating earthquakes

India has dispatched 130 tonnes of aid to Türkiye and another six tonnes to Syria to help with the aftermath of the devastating earthquakes that hit the countries on Monday.

On Tuesday, four C-17 aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) airlifted equipment and medicine, as well as 101 National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) personnel and 99 military medics to the disaster-hit areas. The aid packages are part of New Delhi’s human assistance and disaster relief (HADR) mission called ‘Operation Dost’, which means ‘friends’ in Hindi.

According to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), the NDRF teams are self-contained rescue units. They carry a range of equipment necessary to search collapsed structures and rescue trapped survivors, such as angle cutters, rotary rescue saws, life detectors, lighting, air-lifting bags, chainsaws, hand and power tools and more. They are also accompanied by sniffer dog squads. The medical team will set up a 30-bed field hospital with operation theaters, X-ray machines and ventilators.

“One team went to Adana and another to Urfa. They will later converge at Nurdağı, one of the worst-hit areas. A third team of 51 operatives is on its way and the local administration will decide on its deployment,” NDRF Director-General Atul Karwal said at a media briefing in New Delhi on Wednesday evening.

India’s assistance was on its way even before Türkiye officially requested it, thanks to the initiative of Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, said Air Marshal Balabhadra Radha Krishna.

“The rapid response of the Indian administration stemmed from its annual exercise and standard operating procedure for HADR, which helped them mobilize resources within 12 hours from when the disaster occurred. Our interoperability and synergies among key government departments were on display as this is the farthest — up to nine hours of flying time — that we’ve managed to take our HADR initiative to date,” Krishna explained.

India boosted its disaster relief capabilities after the devastating tsunami that hit the coastal part of southern India, the Andaman and Nicobar islands, Sri Lanka and several other countries in the Indian Ocean region in December 2004, killing over 227,000 people. Since then, HADR has emerged as a security provider in emergencies across the region, as well as for Indians elsewhere in the world. One of its most recent efforts was ‘Operation Ganga’, which evacuated thousands of Indians stranded in and around Ukraine in March last year.

The current death toll from Monday’s devastating earthquakes that hit southern Türkiye and northwestern Syria stands at over 11,000 people. Other affected countries include Cyprus, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Georgia and Armenia.

Türkiye’s ambassador to India, Firat Sunel, praised New Delhi’s assistance. “India’s reaction was important and critical because the first two-three days are very important as it’s a matter of life and death. India’s response was swift,” he said in an interview to